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We chose to stop in Togo to service the bike and got stuck there for over 3 weeks for the Nigerian visa, so had less than 3 days left to see what we could from Benin.We created quite a sensation when we showed up at the border, where Togolese and Beninese crowds cross over on foot and where street-side stalls with brochettes and fried yam are catered for by Nigerian refugees arrived here at the end of the 90s.We already had a visa so we asked for a cheaper Laissez Passer that would allow us to transit the country.As there was no such thing, we took the custom officer’s advice and set off without, only to regret the decision 3 days later, when we had to negotiate the price down from 20000 CFA to the original 5000 CFA.The slaves brought along a robust gastronomy, lively folklore and the voodoo tradition, which was formally recognized as religion only as recent as 1996.
We stopped over for a fufu after the dusty resort of Grand Popo, and rolled cheerfully towards Ouidah.
At the end of the line we found ourselves in front of the Point of No Return, a monument that recalls the 1970’s marxist regime rather than the emotional life of the African slaves.
Also they eagerly cashed in the gold from the very lucrative slave trade based in Ouidah and Porto Novo and run by the Portuguese, the French, the British and the Dutch.
Between 18 over 10000 slaves were shipped by boat from the so dubbed Slave Coast to Brazil and the Caribbean, particularly Haiti.
Ouidah is today a sleepy resort with largely paved roads, but this lonely route lined with palm trees, fetishes and monuments was symbolically left untouched.The sandy piste passes by the monument of the Tree of Forgetfulness, the tree that once stood here was circled by the slaves to induce eternal oblivion upon their previous life in Africa and erase their home memories.